There is always hope, especially when you believe there isn’t any
I know it is possible from my own experience that you can change your life for the better no matter how bad the circumstances of your life. There is always hope, even if you don’t see it.
On July 7, 1982 my life radically changed. After years of struggling with problems with alcohol and panic attacks, I hit bottom. Hard. My way no longer worked. I felt lost and hopeless. Instead of remaining in the black hole of despair, I was propelled into a brand new life that I never could have imagined. I entered treatment and then started attending a recovery program. I have been sober and free from panic attacks for over 36 years!
During my recovery I had to confront the painful reality of growing up in a home where I was sexually abused. All the pain and shame threatened to flood me now that I wasn’t using alcohol to block the pain. Going through the ordeal of my past didn’t kill me, but made me much stronger as I have been able to cope with challenges in my life I never thought possible. Out of darkness of that abuse emerged an intelligent, courageous, and inspiring woman. Me.
In my recovery I was able to do what I thought was impossible. I was to go to school and receive a BA in Psychology and a Masters degree in Social Work. As a result, I have been blessed to work in the addiction field as a counselor, clinical supervisor, and program director for many years. I have also been blessed with being able to use my experiences to see how they can help others.
In 2002 I returned to school to pursue a PhD in Social Work. For someone who was told growing up that she was stupid, I received my PhD in 2005 from one of the top schools of social work in the country. I even had a 4.0 grade point average. That still amazes me as I thought getting a PhD was fun. I have worked since that time as an Associate Professor of Social Work in institutions of higher education. I have published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and had the opportunity to help teach and inspire the next generation of social workers.
I do things today that I never dreamed possible when I was drinking. I am an athlete and musician. Each year I race in the Laramie Mountain Bike Series. While I’ve yet to win a race, I have always completed each one. Music came to me much later in life. Today I play the banjo, electric guitar, and saxophone. While I will probably never have a hit song on iTunes, it is still truly a joy to allow this side of me to express itself. I have an RV and enjoy going on trips with my dogs. I have friends that love and support me on my path.
I know I make a positive difference in the lives of others. I own a beautiful home and have my own business. I have two wonderful rescue poodles that remind me that life is good. I have people in my life that I care about and that care about me. While my life isn’t perfect, I have a sense of meaning and purpose in life that I never could have imagined. Despite the darkness of my past, I truly seen how I can use my experiences to help make a difference in the lives of other people. How is it possible that someone who felt so unworthy of anything good in life achieved such success?
There is nothing special about me that made this happen. The key is that I desperately wanted to believe that I could have a better life and was willing to take basic steps to creating this life. It was terrifying and amazing at the same time. The principles of (1) wanting to believe (whether you believe or not) in something better for yourself and (2) doing the next right thing in terms of creating what you desire even if these are baby steps are all this is necessary to begin. I know these principles work and have no doubt they will work for you.
BA in Psychology from University of Maryland College Park in 1989
Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Maryland Baltimore in 1991
PhD in Social Work from University of Maryland Baltimore in 2005
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Colorado, Maryland, District of Columbia, Georgia
Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor in Maryland